I reckon a good Malaysian or Singaporean hawker restaurant instantly makes a shopping centre a better place. At Winthrop Shopping Centre is Winthrop Hawkers Cafe, next to the Supa IGA supermarket. We stopped by for dinner after running errands on a Thursday night and chose a dish each, plus another to share.
Jac ordered the Chinese rojak (pronounced “roe-juck”, not “roe-jack”), her first time trying rojak. It’s made with crunchy fruit and raw vegetables that are tossed in a dark, pungent, sour-sweet dressing made with shrimp paste, chilli, palm sugar and tamarind. Hawkers Cafe’s version includes blanched beansprouts, fried tow pok (tofu puffs) and chunks of cucumber, pineapple and apple, all sprinkled with ground roasted peanuts. I myself rarely order rojak, especially when there are meat, rice and noodle dishes to choose from. I was worried Jac would find the presence of shrimp paste overpowering, but she really liked the rojak and said she’d be happy to order it again.
The Hainanese chicken rice wasn’t the best I’ve had; the chicken, served splashed with soy sauce, was succulent – but the rice was under-flavoured and the soup verging on too salty. Note: no gingery chilli sauce, which may be a deal-breaker for hardcore chicken rice fans. I’ve definitely tasted superior chicken rice elsewhere in Perth – several that spring to mind are Tak Chee House in Northbridge, Taurus Hawker Foods in Willetton, Bull Creek Hawker at Parry Avenue Shopping Centre, and Wong Hawker’s Food at the Bentley Centre.
For me, the highlight of this meal was the dish we ordered to share, the chicken rice porridge (congee). I’m crazy about rice porridge and get excited whenever I see it on a menu – you can almost guarantee I’ll order it.
Hawkers Cafe’s chicken rice porridge was well seasoned and the right consistency, with plenty of shredded steamed chicken. I would’ve liked more deep-fried shallots on top and none of those white fried noodles that taste of nothing, but they’re easy enough to smother and obliterate with porridge. Next time I’ll ask if I can have a Chinese soup spoon to eat the porridge with – using a regular metal spoon doesn’t deliver quite the right pleasure.
While I won’t rush back to Hawkers Cafe for a chicken rice fix, I’m pleased to have found another place I can get a decent bowl of rice porridge. There are other dishes on the menu I’d like to try too – nasi lemak, chai tow kway and wantan noodles dry style (special on Friday/Saturday). And there’s A&W root beer in the fridge too – another winner. I’m sure we’ll drop in for another cheap feed next time we’re in the neighbourhood.
131 Somerville Blvd, Winthrop WA 6150
Telephone: 9310 5515
Open Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 8.30pm
Hawker’s Cafe or Hawkers Cafe? The restaurant signage and menus say ‘Hawkers’ (no apostrophe), so that’s what I’ve gone for.
Related but unrelated: I tweeted yesterday that I wish Perth had a congee food truck serving up early breakfast so I could grab a bowl on my way to work. That would really be amazing. Especially on rainy grey winter weekdays.